Scriabin: Complete Etudes

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COMPOSERS: Scriabin
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Complete Etudes
PERFORMER: Piers Lane (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66607 DDD
More than his sonatas, which are heavily weighted towards his final period, Scriabin’s Etudes span his whole career. A complete collection of the latter thus makes for a fascinating survey of his gradually metamorphosing style, from the Chopin/Tchaikovsky mixture of Op. 2, No. 1, written at the age of 15 in 1887, to the typically orgiastic and harmonically daring final three, completed in 1912, three years before his death.

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Not surprisingly, they ask a great deal of the pianist (though one at least, Op. 8, No. 8, was written for a less than virtuosic girlfriend). Piers Lane is easily up to tackling the volatile figures that abound in Scriabin’s piano music. Indeed, his technical bravura is often breathtaking. The scurrying parallel ninths – which would have been out of Scriabin’s own reach – in the first Etude of Op. 65, cause him no problems.

An hour of mere technical showmanship would ultimately be boring. Thankfully, Lane never lets us forget that the virtuosic and poetic exist in equal measure, encompassing in his playing the full technical and emotional range of these qualities in the often very brief movements. The melancholy penultimate study of Op. 8, for example, has a marvellously veiled quality, in contrast to its highly extrovert successor.

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The close but ambient recorded sound is ideal, though one or two of the edits momentarily jar. Matthew Rye